Connect with us
[adrotate banner="51"]

People

VCU receives $8.8M to support employment of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities

A Virginia Commonwealth University professor has received two major research awards totaling $8.8 million to coordinate a dozen studies across four universities that will focus on how to best provide training and employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Published

on

x

By Brian McNeill

A Virginia Commonwealth University professor has received two major research awards totaling $8.8 million to coordinate a dozen studies across four universities that will focus on how to best provide training and employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Paul Wehman, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in the School of Medicine with a joint appointment in the Department of Counseling and Special Education in the School of Education, received two five-year $4.4 million awards from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research in the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.

“These two major research grants will provide synergy for VCU to be the predominant leader in the United States in the area of employment for individuals with intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities,” said Wehman, who is also director of a VCU Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employer Practices for Individuals with Disabilities as well as director of the VCU Autism Center for Excellence.

The first award, “Employment of Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD),” involves a consortium of researchers at VCU, as well as Vanderbilt University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Kent State University, and includes six multiphase studies that will examine the effectiveness of different evidence-based interventions to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in competitive employment. The goal is to help reduce the continuing high levels of unemployment among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

One of these studies will be conducted in partnership with Dominion Energy in the Richmond area, enrolling individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities into different jobs and seeking the best strategies for recruitment, training, job placement and retention. The new center will work closely with the Dominion Energy DiverseAbility Employee Resource Group.

The second award, “Transition to Employment for Youth with Disabilities,” will also involve research at VCU, Vanderbilt, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Kent State. It will focus on pre-employment training for younger adolescents, postsecondary and supported college education training for universities that are serving students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as internships for youth with emotional, learning and behavioral disorders.

One of these studies, to be conducted at VCU, will investigate the effectiveness of an internship program called Start on Success that incorporates a career and technical education course followed by paid work experiences for high school students with psychiatric or learning disabilities. The focus of the program is to keep students at risk of dropping out to remain in school and graduate.

“We congratulate Dr. Wehman and his team for this exciting work and grant award. This research will address a critical need for our society — the employment of those with disabilities and build the diversity of our workforce,” said Peter Buckley, M.D., dean of the VCU School of Medicine and the VCU Health System executive vice president for medical affairs.

Andrew Daire, Ph.D., dean of the School of Education, said the school is excited about Wehman’s work and the work of the VCU Rehabilitation Research and Training Center.

“RRTC is a critically important center in the School of Education and its impact puts into practice our vision to be a leader in responsive, needs-driven and research-based educational practices that transform the lives of those we serve in our communities, especially those who have been historically marginalized,” Daire said.

Both awards are Rehabilitation Research and Training Center grants that fund coordinated, integrated and advanced programs of research, training and information dissemination in topical areas specified by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research. These centers conduct research to improve rehabilitation methodology and service delivery systems; improve health and functioning; and promote employment, independent living, family support, and economic and social self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.

Wehman is the founding editor of the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation. His background is highly interdisciplinary and he is internationally known for his pioneering work in the beginning of supported employment in 1980, a rehabilitation intervention strategy that has helped millions of people with neurodevelopmental disabilities, brain injury, mental illness and spinal cord injury in countries around the world to gain competitive employment for the first time.

“Dr. Wehman is a preeminent researcher in this field who has built the foundations of supported employment more than a quarter century ago and we are excited about how he is moving the field forward,” said David Cifu, M.D., chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

History

StoryCorps encourages Richmonders from different backgrounds to take “One Small Step”

In these challenging times, StoryCorps’ One Small Step program is working to help mend the fraying fabric of our nation–one conversation at a time.

Published

on

x

Today, in our divisive political landscape, some nine out of ten Americans say they’re exhausted by our political divisions and looking for a way out. In these challenging times, StoryCorps’ One Small Step program is working to help mend the fraying fabric of our nation–one conversation at a time.

The One Small Step program is working intensively in three “Anchor Communities,” including Richmond, to bring strangers with different political beliefs together–not to debate politics–but to have a conversation about their lives. In the process, the hope is that they both discover their shared humanity.

To date, over 3,000 people across more than 40 U.S. states have participated. Anyone anywhere can be matched for a conversation. Click here to learn more.

In one recent conversation, Richmonders Jerome and Warren learned they had more in common than they thought, even though they’re on different sides of the political aisle.

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

Continue Reading

Outdoors

Sports Backers kicks off ‘Building a Vibrant Community’ fundraising campaign

The $3 million, five-year campaign has raised more than $1.5 million to date.

Published

on

x

Sports Backers, a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring people to live actively, kicked off their ‘Building a Vibrant Community’ campaign with the announcement that the campaign has already raised more than $1.5 million towards its $3 million, five-year goal.

“The Building a Vibrant Community campaign will raise funds to make a lasting impact on the Richmond region,” said Jon Lugbill, Executive Director of Sports Backers. “This campaign will help us grow and create major events, expand the number of group fitness and youth activity programs we offer, build world-class bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and empower volunteer leaders and our region’s best and brightest scholar-athletes. As a result, our region will be a healthier and more vibrant place to live, work, and play.”

The initial success of the Building a Vibrant Community campaign is thanks to contribution pledges from corporations, foundations, community leaders, and regional governments. The campaign is led by Chairman Daniel Gecker, Chair and Partner for Urban Development Associates. Members of the Campaign Committee include the following community leaders:

  • Carrie Roth, Chair of Sports Backers Board of Directors, Commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission
  • Neil Agnihotri, Surgeon, Agnihotri Cosmetic Facial Surgery
  • Lashrecse Aird, Richard Bland College of William & Mary
  • Neil Amin, CEO, Shamin Hotels
  • Bob Blue, CEO, Dominion Energy
  • Suzanne Gardner, Banking Relationship Manager, Wells Fargo Bank
  • Roy Grier, Community Volunteer
  • Burke King, Community Volunteer
  • Kim MacLeod, Finance Partner, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP
  • Sam Mintz, Financial Advisor, Truist
  • Clark Mercer, Community Volunteer
  • Ken Shepard, Managing Director and Head of Wealth Portfolio Strategy, Bank of America
  • Bobby Ukrop, CEO & President, Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods
  • Tom Vozenilek, Executive Vice President, Colliers International

An investment in this $3 million campaign benefits the Richmond region by:

  • Energizing the Richmond community by reinvesting in significant events, expanding the goal-setting impacts of all events, and creating new events
  • Advocating for active living infrastructure, including the Fall Line trail, and creating an active living hub for the region
  • Hosting group fitness programs, including weekly fitness classes, youth fitness clubs, and training teams, as well as a scholar-athlete leadership program

“My confidence in the impact Sports Backers will continue to have on the health and vibrancy of our community has never been stronger,” said campaign chairman Daniel Gecker. “Sports Backers’ ingenuity and dedication to their mission has helped keep our entire community moving during one of the most challenging periods of our lives. This campaign will build on that and provide even more opportunities to get us moving, which is something we all have a renewed appreciation for.”

The following foundations, individuals, companies, and jurisdictions have already made significant contributions to the Building a Vibrant Community campaign: 

  • Lashrecse Aird
  • Allianz Partners
  • Astrya
  • Bank of America
  • Bob & Liz Blue
  • Margaret & Al Broaddus
  • Cameron Foundation
  • Community Foundation for a Greater Richmond
  • Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer
  • Davis Elkins Charitable Foundation Trust
  • Susan & Lennart Freeman
  • Don & Betsy Garber
  • Suzanne Gardner
  • Matt & Kirsti Goodwin
  • Greater Richmond Partnership
  • Roy & Charlotte Grier
  • Hanover County
  • Henrico County
  • Heritage Wealth Advisors
  • Hunton Andrews Kurth
  • Dorothy Jaeckle
  • John Randolph Foundation
  • Chris & Nancy Jo Kantner
  • Burke & Gay King
  • KPMG
  • Maria (Keech) leGrand
  • David Lyons
  • Kim MacLeod
  • Clark Mercer
  • Sam Mintz
  • Randy & Mary Lloyd Parks
  • Frank & Caren Payne
  • P.D. Brooks
  • Maria Purcell
  • City of Richmond
  • Richmond Region Tourism
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch
  • Road Runners Club of America
  • RMC Events
  • Sam & Nikki Young
  • S.B. Cox
  • Scott* and Karen Schricker
  • Shamin Hotels
  • Ken & Brooke Shepard
  • Bob & Melinda Sledd
  • Buck Stinson
  • Barbara J. Thalhimer & William B. Thalhimer, Jr. Family Fund
  • Jayne & Bobby Ukrop
  • Tom & Betty Baugh Vozenilek
  • Tamara Wagner
  • Lee & Margie Warfield
  • Craig & Anita Waters

(* Denotes deceased)

To learn more about Sports Backers and the Building a Vibrant Community campaign, visitwww.sportsbackers.org or contact Megan Capito, Director of Development, at 804-285-9495 or[email protected].

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

Continue Reading

Government

Early voting nears 1 million mark in Virginia

Thousands of Virginians used a warm November Saturday to cast ballots on the final day of early voting. Over 1 million absentee ballots were issued in the 45-day stretch of early voting that ended Nov. 5, and over 940,000 have been returned.

Published

on

x

Chloe Hawkins

Thousands of Virginians used a warm November Saturday to cast ballots on the final day of early voting.

Lawmakers passed a series of election reform measures in recent years that expand the voting period and allow for no-excuse absentee voting, or early voting.

Virginia voters will elect a member to the U.S. House of Representatives in all of the state’s 11 congressional districts, with varying districts also voting on local candidates and initiatives. Over 1 million absentee ballots were requested, according to the Virginia Department of Elections. Over 940,000 ballots have been received as of Nov. 7. Over 680,000 ballots were returned in person, and over 226,000 ballots were mailed.

Polls were open on weekdays except for the two Saturdays preceding the election. A steady line of people waited five to 10 minutes outside the Henrico County Western Government Center to vote Saturday. Some people waited longer than they might on Election Day, but appreciated the convenience of checking voting off their to-do list.

Henrico County general registrar Mark Coakley has held the position for 18 years, he said. Coakley, who studied political science in college, said he chose to be a part of the political process because it’s been a passion of his since he was a young adult.

“I’m really excited for voters showing up,” Coakley said. “Today, and on Election Day.”

Voters are happy with this shift, he said.

“With early voting, the voters get to choose to wait in line at 8:30 on a Saturday morning,” Coakley said. “It’s their choice — they’re not forced to vote on a Tuesday after a long workday.”

Alan Wagner is a voter who lives in Henrico County, parts of which are in congressional District 1. Wagner is concerned about crime, and the economy—especially the rising costs of items due to inflation, he said.

“I’m afraid to go into downtown Richmond sometimes,” Wagner said. “And the gas and food prices are outrageous.”

This is the first year Wagner voted early, in four decades of voting, he said. He decided to vote early due to the uncertainty of his work schedule on Election Day.

“I’m really busy working 10-hour shifts,” Wagner said. “I don’t know what the lines will look like at the precinct after 5 o’clock on Tuesday.”

Virginia residents have more of a voice in elections such as midterms, Coakley said, when they choose representatives to speak on their behalf in Congress. But, turnout is always higher in a presidential election. Almost 2.7 million early votes were cast in 2020 in Virginia, according to the state’s Department of Elections. For the gubernatorial election last year, over 1.1 million people voted early, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, or VPAP.

Although voter turnout in the 2018 midterm election was historic, an expanded time frame for early voting did not exist, Coakley said, which makes turnout comparisons more difficult.

“These laws weren’t put in place in 2018,” Coakley said. “But they have caused an increase in early voting.”

For example, over 330,000 early votes were cast in 2018 in Virginia, and that number will likely be at least three times higher this year, according to data from the Virginia Department of Elections. But, 1.2 million more people voted in 2018 than the previous midterm election. It remains to be seen if turnout this year will reach similar participation.

There is a 70% return rate of absentee ballots overall in Virginia as of Nov. 7, with the lowest district return rate at 64% and the highest at 76%, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.

Election Day is Nov. 8. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by that date and received by noon three days after the election to count. Voters can find their polling place on the Virginia Department of Elections website. Voters can also register to vote on Election Day, though they will be given a provisional ballot.

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

Continue Reading